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For Immediate Release: 09/18/07

New evidence of tuberculosis and animal abuse cover-ups plagues Ringling

Federal court documents spotlight critic’s claims as circus arrives in Sacramento

Sacramento, CA — As Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey circus prepares for its September 20–23 run in Sacramento, new evidence of animal abuse and dangerous tuberculosis in Ringling elephants has surfaced. The federal court discovery documents citing these issues are the result of an endangered species lawsuit brought by national animal advocacy groups including Sacramento-based plaintiff, the Animal Protection Institute (API).

Additionally, a September 12 report, published by award-winning Bay area journalist Leslie Griffith, documents Ringling’s knowledge of active cases of tuberculosis in its touring elephants and its continued cover-up of the dangers this disease poses to humans and elephants. The report references disturbing comments from USDA inspectors, Ringling veterinarians, and infectious disease specialists.

API, along with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Welfare Institute, and Fund for Animals, claims that Ringling abuses endangered elephants by constant chaining, use of the dangerous bullhook, and tearing newborn babies from their mothers. Documents from Ringling employees confirm these claims:

“After the act I ... observed blood in small pools and dripped along the length of the rubber and all the way to the barn ... We had an elephant dripping blood all over the arena floor during the show from being hooked.”
— 2005 email from Ringling animal behaviorist to Ringling general manager

“After this morning’s baths, at least 4 of the elephants came in with multiple abrasions and lacerations from the hooks ... The lacs were very visible, and I had questions at the open house from 2 members of the public about where they were from.”
— 2004 report from Ringling veterinary technician

“The circus travels from city to city, hiring huge PR firms to blanket the local media with a false image of what life is like for these animals,” says Nicole G. Paquette, Esq., Director of Legal & Government Affairs for API. “A prime example is Ringling’s boast of conserving elephants by breeding them, citing 20 births in the last 27 years. What Ringling conveniently fails to mention is that six of these elephants died at very young ages, and the others do nothing but perform in the circus. That’s exploitation, not conservation.”

“The fact is that major zoos across the U.S. are closing down their elephant exhibits, admitting they don’t have the space to properly care for elephants. If zoos can’t do it, Ringling, with its cramped train cars and stadium parking lots, definitely can’t.”

Copies of the above referenced documents and corresponding images are available to members of the media. Leslie Griffith’s tuberculosis expose can be seen at www.truthout.org/docs_2006/091207J.shtml.


Zibby Wilder, Animal Protection Institute, 916-267-7266 (cell)

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